Panthers snap up Aussie teenager

EXCITING youngster Dakota North will be flying high with Peterborough.The Australian teenager, who made a stunning impact in the National League with Mildenhall last season, has committed his future to the Panthers.

EXCITING youngster Dakota North will be flying high with Peterborough.

The Australian teenager, who made a stunning impact in the National League with Mildenhall last season, has committed his future to the Panthers.

He's the first of several new signings as the Peterborough management look to build for the future.

Eighteen-year-old North, whose father Rod rode in Britain for Stoke and Workington in the seventies and early eighties, was the target for nearly a dozen clubs.

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He was bombarded with offers to sign during a fleeting visit to Britain in the summer but the Panthers have won the day and will loan him out for further experience.

Dak made a fleeting sounding-out trip to the UK a few months after winning the 2007 Australian Under 16 Championship when his rivals included current World Under 21 Champion Darcy Ward, making his Conference League debut for Oxford.

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He returned home at the end of the season and missed the whole 2008 through injury but was back in this country last summer.

He arrived in June and signed for Mildenhall on a short-term contract and was an enormous hit with the Fen Tigers' fans.

He scored double figures on his debut against eventual champions Bournemouth and then topped that with 13, paid 14, against Buxton in his second appearance.

He was immediately drafted into the Australasian squad for the five match Under 21 series against England.

He scored 34 points in only three tests but crashed into the fence at the Isle of Wight's Smallbrook Stadium, taking evasive action to avoid a fallen opponent.

Despite travelling back to his Milton Keynes base the same evening he suffered severe back pains and when he went to hospital they discovered he had broken several vertebra.

His season was over when he was put into a cast and flew back home to Australia before the end of the season but has now made a total recovery and has been racing again Down Under this winter.

Dakota - he was named after the famous Douglas Dakota plane because his grandfather was an enthusiastic pilot - is hoping to get his break in the Premier League this season as he has patriality and does not need a work permit.

His arrival at the East of England Showground heralds the beginning of a new drive to find the stars of tomorrow and he will be a familiar face at Alwalton next year.

Panthers' new Director of Speedway Peter Oakes said: “Peterborough had a terrific reputation as the home of some tremendous Australian riders and Dak has the ability to go a long way.

“He's very much a signing for the future but we will be investing in him and giving him the best possible chance of making it as far as the Elite League.

“At 18, he has time on his side but he's already shown he has tremendous natural talent.

“We are delighted he's agreed to sign for us as he had a pretty wide choice of clubs interested in taking him on.

“He will arrive back in this country in time for our pre-season Press and Practice Day at the beginning of March and his father will come over with him to give him a hand.

“He was originally recommended by Neil Street, Jason Crump's grandfather, and a very shrewd judge of talent.

“Dak stayed with Streetie initially before moving up to Milton Keynes last year and we are sure he will have a very bright future with the Panthers.”

Panthers' owner Rick Frost said: “I am delighted with the signing of Dak and I'm confident he will make the progress necessary to wear the Panthers` colours in the Elite League in the not too distant future. A warm welcome to our new signing.”

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